58. Please don’t make it wrong to be delighted

I’m right now standing on Sunset Boulevard on my way to a private screening of a Hollywood film. The director will be there, the producers will be there and it hasn’t been released yet.

When I was offered the opportunity to go (ok, to be fair, I wasn’t offered it, I asked if I could be there!), I jumped at it. If the movie turns out to be something I like*, good, but that wasn’t the selling point.

To me, being at a Hollywood screening (where I even know the filmmakers!) is a new experience, and one I want to have. To people who live here – especially if they’re in the industry – it’s a bit more of a regular occurance.

On the other hand, if someone came and said “Claus! How do you feel about staying in a castle for four days? Wild, right?”, I’d probably say “Yeah, it sounds cool, but I was at five different castles last year over a period of ten weeks, so I need a bit more detail.”

For the Hollywood local, the Polish castle experience is a lot more novel.

I’m trying to remind myself (and maybe others) that we easily forget the wonder and the excitement of the unusual. Veteran larpers who go to our events will comment on details in game design, how they liked the character writing, who they had good play with, and so on.

Inexperienced (especially first time) larpers are blown away by simply larping in a cool setting with cool people. And that’s not just ok, that’s to be treasured.

Because we’re so egalitarian and inclusive and community-minded, we sometimes forget that we have vastly different starting points. And that by robbing newcomers of their innocent joy in all things (which we may not have, since we’ve seen better/different), we do them a disservice.

Somebody who has just had their mind blown doesn’t need to get a detailed critique about what I would have preferred done in a different manner. They should get a heartfelt “I’m glad you had an awesome time! If you want, I can tell you about other cool experiences that are also out there, that you might also enjoy.” instead.

Sure! But not always. I’ve been to larps with new people, who had their enthusiasm shamed by old guard larpers who didn’t feel it was “up to standard”. And that’s a shame. It’s ok not to like something, or to say “Yeah, it was ok, I guess, but not in my top10.”. That’s perfectly alright.

But we need to remember that for some people, this IS in their top10. Or their top1. And when you’re a veteran oozing experience and status, you become a tastemaker, and it’s easy to make someone feel “wrong” by being harshly critical about an experience they loved.

It’s by no means exclusively a larp phenomenon, but I see it more here, because

A. I organise larps. I rarely create movies. ;)

B. Larps are more individually experienced, yet not necessarily spoken about that way.

C. Most people have already seen several movies/books/video games by the time I meet them.

Especially C is relevant. If someone says to me that a movie sucks, I may feel bad about liking it if the other person is an authority on film. But most people are – like me – just consumers and fans of films.

With larp, it’s still a young enough medium, that having played ten larps makes you something of an expert. Doubly so when compared to people who are at their first event. Someone who is at their movie #78 is less likely to be affected by whether a random person considers a movie good or bad.

So my boon is simple. Be critical about larps! Express that criticism in reasonable ways. But don’t make newcomers and the inexperienced feel like they’re doing things wrong because THEY had a great experience. Realise that you wield power, and we all know what comes with that. ;)

And be happy that other people can be wow’ed at things your jaded self no longer is impressed by.

*The movie was quite good, and the Q&A/Feedback session afterwards was super interestibg to experience! I will post the blog as it was written before the movie, because nothing has changed by me watching i. :-)

Director at The College of Extraordinary Experiences, Coach at McKinsey & Founding Partner at The Global Institute For Thought Leadership. Author of 31 books.

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